How to Maintain Brand Consistency, Even if You Are a Small Business Owner or a One (Wo)man-Band.

I have the pleasure of working with multiple “new” brands at various stages of their branding journey. One challenge I see new brands and business owners consistently face is maintaining brand consistency.

Marketing is often under-resourced and the first to be hit with budget cuts, resulting in a team wearing multiple hats. We’ve all seen the memes: one employee writing email copy, website updates, managing social media, and running Google Ads. If this sounds familiar, or you are a small business owner who is the CMO and and and, let’s identify how you can still achieve and maintain brand consistency.

Image Source: Jimmy Kim

First, let’s reverse: What is brand consistency?

Picture this: It’s the holidays, and you and your family have decided to go on a road trip down the coast. You packed some snacks for the car ride to keep you going and agreed that you’d do most of the shopping when you reach your destination.

If this is a destination you have traveled to before, am I correct in assuming that you’ve already got the name of a grocery store in mind? Mine starts with a “W”…

When I think of grocery shopping at this particular store, I am filled with a sense of calm, knowing that despite the location, my experience will be the same, i.e., consistent. Yes, the exact products may differ, but the layout, quality, and general experience will be the same. And this is not limited to the physical store. If “W” were to remove its logo, I would still be able to identify the brand based on its messaging, copy, font, colors, etc, and much deeper than that, the feeling I get when interacting with the brand across multiple touchpoints.

Brand consistency is the backbone of your brand’s identity. It involves weaving the brand’s core values, vision, and personality into all communications, visual elements, and consumer touchpoints to establish a unique and memorable experience. Brand consistency builds trust. It is the secret sauce that helps successful brands anchor themselves in consumers’ minds.

Brands are built through the consistent delivery of the brand promise through all stakeholder touchpoints. – William Arruda

How to achieve brand consistency:

  1. Create Brand Guidelines: To achieve brand consistency, it’s crucial to start with clear and concise brand guidelines that cover the visual, verbal, and emotional aspects of the brand. These guidelines serve as a roadmap for maintaining consistency. This document does not have to be a thesis; as a small brand, a simple one-pager can go a long way. It will also save you time, as you can refer to it whenever you launch a campaign or new product. Always share this with your team and anyone working closely on the brand so you’re all singing off the same brand sheet.
  2. Designing Brand-Centric Experiences: Branding is about creating a unique experience for your audience that conveys the brand’s story, values, and promise. Each customer touchpoint, whether a website, email, or retail store, should reflect the brand’s personality and provide a unified experience. If you’re a grocer and one of your values is sustainability, think about how to demonstrate that throughout your various touch points. Perhaps it’s through campaigns encouraging shoppers to bring their own shopping bags, supporting local farmers, and stocking in-season produce. Be bold, push the boundaries, and think of new ways to create and encourage change if that is a core value of your brand.
  3. Map out your Customer Journey: Mapping customer journeys is about understanding and optimizing the paths customers take in their interactions with the brand. It involves identifying touchpoints, analyzing interactions, tailoring the journey to resonate with customer needs, and matching that with the brand’s essence. Continuous exploration, analysis, and refinement are essential to keep the journey relevant and impactful. Are you implementing a new process that you believe will help your customer? Ask them for feedback.
  4. Pick your Platforms: Once you have clearly identified who your target audience is, you will know where they hang out – where they do their grocery shopping, search for specials online, etc. Many small businesses look to large brands and feel they must compete with them and be present on all platforms. It may sound counter-intuitive, but being on every platform without the necessary planning and ability to execute can damage your brand. Instead, focus on where you know you can bring the most value to your clients and get really good at it.

Final thoughts

In the whirlwind of managing multiple responsibilities as a small business owner or a one-person team, maintaining brand consistency can seem like another “task” to tick off. It’s important to shift perspective and view it as a strategic advantage that builds trust with your audience.

Establishing clear and concise brand guidelines serves as your North Star, ensuring that every piece of communication is aligned with your brand identity and resonates with your audience. Once you have this established, spend some time crafting a unique brand experience and make sure that it is obvious at every interaction a customer has. Use what you know about your audience and meet them there.

In essence, brand consistency isn’t about having an extensive team or an overflowing budget. It’s about being intentional and strategic and leveraging your uniqueness, values, and story to create a cohesive experience for your audience.

Need help creating and maintaining brand consistency in your business? Get in touch.

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